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Get Your Well-Woman Visit Every Year

    smiling woman and doctor

    Content last updated on:
    January 31, 2013

    The Basics

    Schedule your well-woman visit with a doctor or nurse every year. The well-woman visit is a great tool to help you stay healthy.

    Well-woman visits include a full checkup, separate from any other visit for sickness or injury. These visits focus on preventive care for women, which may include:

    • Services, like shots, that improve your health by preventing diseases and other health problems
    • Screenings, which are medical tests to check for diseases early when they may be easier to treat
    • Education to help you make health decisions

    Find out more about screenings.

    What happens during a well-woman visit?
    Your well-woman visit is a chance to focus on your overall health and wellness. There are 3 main goals for the visit:

    1. Documenting your health habits and history
    2. Getting a physical exam
    3. Setting health goals

    The Basics

    Health habits and history
    Before your visit, the doctor or nurse will ask you to answer some questions about your overall health. These questions may cover topics like your:

    • Medical history
    • Family’s health history
    • Relationships and sexual partners
    • Eating habits and physical activity
    • Use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs
    • Mental health history, including depression

    Physical exam
    The doctor or nurse will do a physical exam, which usually includes:

    Health goals
    You and the doctor or nurse will talk about the next steps for helping you stay healthy. Together, you can decide which screenings or follow-up services are right for you.

    If you have health goals, like losing weight or quitting smoking, you and your doctor or nurse can make a plan to help you meet these goals.

    The Basics

    How often do I need a well-woman visit?
    It’s a good idea to get a well-woman visit once a year. Depending on the screenings or other services you need, it may take more than 1 visit.

    For example, the doctor or nurse may ask you to come in for a follow-up visit to discuss the results of a screening. Or you may need a separate appointment to get a specific service.

    Take Action!

    Take Action!

    Take these steps to make sure you get the most out of your well-woman visit.

    Know your family health history.
    The health history of your family is an important part of your personal health record. Use this family health history tool to keep track of conditions that run in your family. Take this information to your well-woman visit.

    Make a list of questions for your doctor.
    This visit is a great time to ask the doctor or nurse any questions related to:

    • Birth control
    • Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
    • Preparing to get pregnant
    • Eating healthy foods
    • Getting more active
    • Your safety and relationships
    • Anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues

    Some important questions include:

    • Do I need any important shots?
    • How can I protect myself from HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)?
    • How can I get more physical activity?
    • Which form of birth control is right for me?
    • How do I know if my relationship is healthy and safe?
    • Where can I get help for a mental health issue?

    Take a notepad and write down the answers so you remember them later.

    Take Action!

    Talk with your doctor about which screenings you need.
    Getting screening tests is one of the most important things you can do for your health. At your well-woman visit, the doctor may recommend screening you for:

    In addition to screenings, the doctor may sometimes recommend counseling.

    Use the myhealthfinder tool to find out which screening tests you may need.

    What about cost?
    The Affordable Care Act, the health care reform law passed in 2010, covers your well-woman visit. It also covers many other services, like some screenings and types of counseling.

    Depending on your insurance, you may be able to get well-woman visits and related services at no cost to you.

    Find out which services for women are covered by the Affordable Care Act.

    Take Action!

    Follow up with the doctor after your visit.
    During your well-woman visit, the doctor or nurse may recommend that you see a specialist or get certain screenings. Try to schedule these follow-up appointments before you leave the doctor’s office.

    If that’s not possible, make a reminder note on your calendar to schedule your follow-up appointments.

    Get more tips on taking an active role in your health care.

    Take steps to stay healthy all year.
    There are things you can do every day to stay healthy. Get tips on:

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